Pension scam victims lost £91,000 each on average last year, according to new figures from the City watchdog and the pensions regulator.
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and The Pensions Regulator (TPR) have teamed up to launch the ScamSmart advertising campaign, which is aimed at pension holders aged between 45 and 65 as they are most at risk of losing their cash.
According to the regulators, highly sophisticated scammers lure people into transferring their pensions into fraudulent schemes. Victims of pension scams can lose their life savings, and be left facing retirement with limited income.
A total of 253 victims reported to Action Fraud that they had lost more than £23m to pension scammers in 2017, equating to an average loss of £91,000 per victim.
“£91,000 is a huge amount of money for someone approaching their retirement to suddenly have ripped from their savings.”
“If someone cold calls you about your pension, it’s probably an attempt to steal your savings. Our message is clear – hang up and report it,” Nicola Parish, executive director of frontline regulation, TPR, said.
Cold calling is the most common method of pension fraud, despite it being two years since the government announced a ban to protect savers.
The new rules were supposed to start in June this year but have been delayed until this autumn.
Campaigners are calling for an immediate ban on pensions cold-calling due to the amount that has been stolen since freedoms were announced. (continues…)
The regulators have found another common tactic used by scammers is to offer a ‘free pension review’. Their research found that one in eight 45 to 65-year-olds would trust an offer of a ‘free pension review’ from someone claiming to be a pension adviser.
“The size of individual pension pots makes pensions savings an attractive target for fraudsters.
“That’s why we’re urging anyone who is thinking about transferring their pension to check who they are dealing with and only use firms authorised by the FCA.
“Pension scams can cause victims significant harm – both financially and mentally.
“If you are ever in doubt about a pension offer, visit the ScamSmart website,” Mark Steward, executive director of enforcement and market oversight at the FCA, said.
The ScamSmart advertising campaign, which takes in TV, radio and social media, is targeting pension holders aged 45-65 – the group judged to be most at risk of scams.
The adverts aim to show the contrast between the impact on the victims and the often jet-setting lifestyles enjoyed at their expense by the criminals.